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Denise King

"When people ask me about my music and how I got started, I tell them that my singing career really started by accident. Music was never something that I planned to do or something that I picked. It just happened. After all that I've experienced, and all of the wonderful people that I've met, I don't think I would trade this gig for any other in the world."

One day a shy girl from Philadelphia, PA, was sweeping her front stoop and sweetly singing "Summertime” when a guitarist/writer from Philadelphia International Records walked by and heard her singing. He was so impressed by what he heard that he auditioned her, hired her and the rest is history. That was the beginning of a singing career that would WOW people in Brazil, France, Africa, Japan, Turkey, and other places around the world.

With no formal vocal instruction, it’s apparent that she was born to sing. She was introduced to Jazz at age twelve by an uncle who had an extensive collection of Jazz LP's. Her "studies" involved hours of listening to the Jazz greats, both vocalists and instrumentalists. Denise borrowed phrasing styles from Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole and Frank Sinatra. She gained an appreciation for lyrics from Lil Jimmy Scott, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McCrae and Nina Simone. The early gigs were difficult in that she was painfully stage shy.

But with the help of Sam Reed, sax man and leader of the legendary Uptown Theater Orchestra she overcame her stage fright. Her early experiences involved sharing the stage with many legends, Butch Ballard, Arthur Harper, Sam Dougherty, Cecil Payne, Jymie Merritt, Bootsie Barnes, Lex Humphries and many, many more. They taught her the importance of having something to say every time she stepped up to the microphone. Their instruction paid off. While performing at Zanzibar Blue in Philly, Denise met Dexter Wansel, writer, producer, which opened the door to many recording experiences at Philly International Records.

Denise King is a very passionate singer who has a way of pulling her audiences into her performances. Listening to her warm tone, impeccable phrasing, and the absolute control she has of her voice is mesmerizing. Whether she's singing a Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan standard, or a Gladys Knight or Aretha Franklin cover, she puts her heart and soul into every note. Denise has mastered the art of making a song her own no matter what the genre. Over the years, she has shared the stage with such greats as Roy Hargrove, The Brecker Brothers, Phil Wright, Cecil McBee, Christian McBride, Orrin Evans, Lonnie Plaxico, Uri Caine, Sid Simmons, Dr. Guy Ramsey, J.D. Walter, Barbara Morrison, Derrick Hodge, Chris Beck, Billy Paul, Jean Carne, Celine Dion, Bunny Sigler and the list goes on and on.

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Denise King: Making the Tradition New

Read "Denise King: Making the Tradition New" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Denise King is a jny: Philadelphia vocalist who has made the world her oyster with her unique ability to navigate between rhythm and blues and sultry jazz standards. Discovered in the 1980s by an R&B songwriter-producer, King quickly found her way in the City of Brotherly Love with some of the top musicians in both popular and jazz settings. In the New Millennium, she has been shuttling back and forth between the U.S. and Europe delivering stellar performances on both ...

Live Review

Denise King and Venissa Santi Conclude Billie Holiday Tribute at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia

Read "Denise King and Venissa Santi Conclude Billie Holiday Tribute at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer

Kimmel Center's Jazz Up Close Series, 2009-2010 Season Back in Your Own Back Yard: Billie Holiday Tribute Denise King and Venissa Santi Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1, 2010

This, the final concert in an eclectic series organized by Curator Danilo Perez and linked by the goal of honoring the memory of the great Billie Holiday, featured two fine divas, each bringing her own style and musical agenda to bear on Holiday's signature ...

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Performance / Tour

Jazz Bridge First Wednesdays Neighborhood Concerts Series At The Cheltenham Center For The Arts Presents Vocalist Denise King

Jazz Bridge First Wednesdays Neighborhood Concerts Series At The Cheltenham Center For The Arts Presents Vocalist Denise King

Source: Bruce Klauber

The Jazz Bridge First Wednesdays Neighborhood Concerts Series at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts—Ashbourne Road in Cheltenham—presents vocalist Denise King on Wednesday, January 7. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., tickets are $10/$5 for students, and are only available at the door. For info: 215-517-833. or visit jazzbridge.org/events/neighborhood-concerts. A rhythm and blues fan as a child, Denise King discovered jazz at the age of 12. Her “formal” musical education consisted of listening carefully to everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone ...


Performance / Tour

Denise King at Society Hill Playhouse on February 16th

Denise King at Society Hill Playhouse on February 16th

Source: Jim Miller

Appearing at Jazz at the Playhouse will be singer Denise King and her band featuring pianist Aaron Graves, bassist Lee Smith and drummer Khary Shaheed at the Society Hill Playhouse, 507 S. 8th Street in Philadelphia on February 16th. One Show: 7:30-9 p.m. Admission: $10/$5 for students. No advance sales. For info: 215-517-8337 or 856-858-8914. Parking is right across the street, and public transportation is very convenient as well! Jazz Bridge, a 501C3 nonprofit that assists our local jazz and ...


Video / DVD

Vocalist Denise King Video

Vocalist Denise King Video

Source: Michael Ricci


Performance / Tour

Jazz Bridge Presents Denise King at the Cheltenham Arts Center on April 7th

Jazz Bridge Presents Denise King at the Cheltenham Arts Center on April 7th

Source: Michael Ricci

Appearing at the Cheltenham Arts Center, 439 Ashbourne Rd., Cheltenham, PA, on Wednesday April 7th will be jazz vocalist Denise King and her trio, featuring pianist Aaron Graves, bassist Lee Smith, and drummer Lucky Thompson.

One show: 7:30-9PM. Tickets: $10/$5 for students. No advance sales. Free Refreshments! For info: 215-517-8337

The Cheltenham Jazz Bridge Neighborhood Concerts are partially funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Denise King is ...



Denise King Steps up to the Mic at Firehouse

Denise King Steps up to the Mic at Firehouse

Source: All About Jazz

Denise King has organized a great jazz series at the Firehouse Farmers market in West Philly. Next Friday (July 5), Denise steps up to the microphone. Should be a great show.


The 3rd Annual Jazz Concert Series at the Firehouse Farmers Market happens every Friday through August 30 and features some of the most accomplished jazz musicians in the Philadelphia region.

The free concerts are presented by West Philadelphia's own Denise ...

"Denise King sings pop and jazz standards with touches of the blues, soul and even gospel in a voice steeped in a sophisticated, swinging, sometimes soulful, satin style much like one of her idols, Sarah Vaughan." —Donald True Van Deusen, All About Jazz





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